If we have a young or energetic cat, the best way to wear them out can be another young or energetic cat.
Or even a somewhat young, sporadically energetic, other cat.
We can do “prey play” very well with wand toys, sponge balls, or even electronic devices.
We can offer tree substitutes for them to run up and down upon.
But it’s more difficult for us to offer “littermate play,” and often this is what our lively little one (or, as in Tristan’s case, big one) longs for.
If our cat seems too rough, such as clamping onto our forearms, using their claws too much, or pouncing on our ankles, it might be that they don’t have a proper playmate. Young cats learn to hunt animals, that are going to be as large as themselves, by practicing their moves on their siblings.
We can try to satisfy our cat’s enjoyment of such play, but our success will depend on what kind of cat we have.
James and Olwyn were not fond of this kind of play, being too dignified. RJ enjoyed creating imaginative scenarios with his stuffed toys, which satisfied his need to disembowel things.
But Tristan needs it very much, and fortunately for all of us, RJ is willing to play the “heavy bag” for Tristan’s training sessions. But some of us, even if we want to, can’t take on a new cat for such purposes. What, then, to do?
It is possible to approximate for our kitten’s needs. Here’s some tips to try:
Stuffed toys: RJ enjoyed his Loofa Dog Toy very much. It was long enough that we could tease him with it safely. All we had to do was get him started, and he would kill it over and over until he got tired.
The oven mitt: While we should teach our kitten that “hands are not toys,” the oven mitt is an exception. The oven mitt can be a toy!
Use the oven mitt as a “puppet kitten” to stalk and attack and wrestle with our kitten, to give them the sibling play they are wanting. This gives our cat a cue that distinguishes our actual hand from the toy the oven mitt has become. Keeping the mitt for cat play only helps this connection form.
Ankle attacks: Kittens who attack our feet want to chase and be chased. This is difficult for us to do with the speed and agility of other kittens. We can satisfy this instinctual urging with small and lively toys, like Tristan’s beloved sponge balls, or technical help that runs fast enough, like a remote controlled mouse.
The best defensive move when our cat is too rough is to act like we are hurt; quietly. Saying Ow, cupping the wounded part in our hand, and withdrawing from the field of play lets our kitten or cat know they have gone too far. Don’t try to pet them again until we have discharged this rowdy energy with some appropriate play they can use their teeth and claws on.
I see proper play as just another advantage of multiple cats. One play monster demands another, or as in our case, a willing target. If we had Tristan with only Olwyn and James Bond, I’d have to use Sibling Play Strategies, like the ones above. Because:
Energy cannot be extinguished, only redirected.
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There’s more about multiple cats in The Way of Cats than the article you are reading now. See more posts on the MULTIPLE CAT ADVANTAGE.
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